Baby steps toward a budget

Plastic is the devil. All of it. Whether it be plastic surgery or plastic credit cards, it is all evil. I've become so accustomed to using my debit card that I use it for literally everything. People tell me, "Just leave it at home," or "Don't use it," but that's hard. Especially since I have memorized the number.

I don't need to have my credit card on hand to order the new Ipod when I can just punch my number onto the internet. I've even got the expiration date and the CVV number in my head. It's horrible being blessed with a photographic memory.

That leads to the problem of overspending. It's so easy to spend money with a debit card. You want to know what's worse? My bank pays everything. All checks...all debits. Even if I'm about to go into the negatives. That has led me to some deep red numbers.

My wife and I currently have direct deposit setup at work. It's very convenient. I mean, the money is already there when we wake up in the morning. No need to go to the bank. No need to wait in line for hours, OK...minutes. It's great. But maybe it's too convenient.

I've been thinking about getting rid of direct deposit. I think that having to drive to the bank and cash my check would have a positive effect on me. I believe that having all our cash in front of me will make me think about spending that same cash. Seeing a number on a computer screen is one thing, seeing your hard earned cash in front of you is another.

Spending the money will be hard as well. When you see the money slowly going away, it makes you think a little more.

I've become better at watching my spending. I don't look at things the same way anymore. I don't look at a Nintendo Wii game costing $50. I look at it costing 2 1/2 hours of work. My $100 trip to the casino costs me 5 hours of work. Looking at that makes me re-think what I'm doing. I bought Rock Band for my Playstation the other day. I spent about $160 on it. I thought about it later...that's a full days work!

I still spend way more than I should, but at the same time I have improved a lot. I actually went to Wal-mart with the intention of buying a video game. When I got there, I actually didn't buy anything. It sounds stupid, but it was a big thing for me. I came home really giddy and told the wife my accomplishment. She sorta laughed it off but she knew.

Baby steps...baby steps.

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